Castle Falkenstein / Variations

Please, Do Not Faint!

Please, Do Not Faint!

I admit, this particular entry in the Variations line has me... nervous.


Because, dear Friends of Falkenstein, The Six-Sided Variation adds rules to play the Great Game using, dare I say it? Dice!

How did rules involving such a scandalous form of probability generation end up as part of the Castle Falkenstein revival from Fat Goblin Games?

Perhaps I should allow Captain Olam explain just how he came across this variation during his adventures in New Europa...

So, there I was: captured and tied up. Again.

This time, I was the guest of one Professor James Moriarty, head of the World Crime League and future archnemesis of a certain consulting detective. I had been investigating Prussian attempts to build a self-guided, long range rocket when I stumbled into the clutches of Moriarty’s henchmen beneath the streets of Paris.

Let’s just say the fight didn’t go my way and, as a result, I was now tied to a chair while Moriarty loomed over me with a particularly large hypodermic needle.

“It would be easier for you to just tell me what you know about my operations here in Paris, of course." Moriarty explained in his ever charming way while he scrutinized the liquid in the hypodermic. “I have every faith my new honesty serum will work but I’ve yet to test it. There might be unintended side-effects.”

Always eager to avoid being injected with anything, I cast my gaze around the cavernous underground bunker looking for something, anything really, to use as a distraction. Off in the corner of the room I noticed a group of five henchmen playing some sort of boisterous game with dice and wooden poker chips.

“Don’t look now, Moriarty,” I motioned with my chin towards the game, “But I think your foot soldiers are gambling. That can’t be good for morale.”

Moriarty didn’t even look back.

“Actually, Captain Olam, those five are in training. They are, in fact, doing so with your Great Game. I found it marvelous help in teaching the skills needed to keep a cool and clever head when overcoming unexpected obstacles. Remind me to thank you. After your interrogation, of course.”

“Can’t be my game,” I noted, “My Great Game uses cards, not dice.”

“Yes, well, my followers aren’t all as well bred as those you wrote your game for,” Moriarty admitted, “I’ve found they respond better to the sort of excitement which comes from a random roll of the dice more than to the subtle joy gained from strategic card play.”

I was intrigued. Better yet, I knew if I could keep the Professor talking, I’d buy Marianne time to find and rescue me.

“Please,” I said, giving Moriarty my best smile, “Tell me more.”


I have reviewed and tested these rules thoroughly, perhaps more thoroughly than any other Variation Fat Goblin Games has introduced to Castle Falkenstein during the revival. Let me assure you, although dice are present, Suits matter. Abilities matter. Strategy matters. The Six-Sided Variation may use dice but it is still allows for the elegant, thoughtful gaming experience which makes the Great Game... well, great. We expect it to be available for purchase before this time in February.

Your humble servant,

J Gray



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New Options for the Specialization Variation!

New Options for the Specialization Variation!

Greetings, Friends of Falkenstein! Here in the United States of America, today is known as Black Friday. A day upon which hoards of shoppers descend upon both the internet and physical stores in a mad frenzy of bargain purchasing! 

Instead of offering a sale, however, we at Fat Goblin Games offer those of you who have supported the Castle Falkenstein revival a choice morsel for free!

In The Ability Variations we introduced the Specialization Variation, in which characters both Host and Dramatic could be given Specializations for their Abilities. In the original writing, a Specialization raised the Rank of an Ability by one when performing an appropriate Feat. For example, a scientist might have an Average Rank in Charisma when speaking to most people but, with a Specialization in Charisma of "Academics" she would have a Good Rank in Charisma when speaking to a fellow scientist.

Today, we present a new option for the Specialization Variation! One available, thus far, only in these postings and not in any published product.

Instead of a Specialization raising the Rank of an Ability in an appropriate situation, it instead allows a Player or Host to convert the Suit of one card in their hand to the Suit of the Ability in question.

Using this option for the Specialization Variation, a Player will always have a card of the right Suit as a reward for choosing to Specialize in a specific field.

For example, famed ghost scholar Professor Doyle is attempting to determine what type of ghost might be haunting a manor based on the description given to him by the owner. The Professor's Education (a Diamonds Ability) is Ranked as Great and he has a Specialization in "Ghostly Lore". In his hand, Professor Doyle's Player, Lucus, holds a Four of Spades, a Six of Hearts, a Nine of Diamonds, and a Ten of Hearts. Since the Professor's Specialization in Education pertains to the Feat being performed (identifying the ghost in question) he can convert the Ten of Hearts into a Ten of Diamonds for the task at hand. Thus, Lucus can play both the Nine of Diamonds and the Ten of Hearts (now Diamonds) to increase Professor Doyle's odds of success.

Hosts who like the general tone of this option but feel it is too generous can place a limiting factor on which cards can be converted based on the Rank of the Ability which has been Specialized in as follows.

  • If the Ability is Poor, the Player can convert only cards with a value of 4 or less.
  • If the Ability is Average, the Player can convert only cards with a value of 6 or less.
  • If the Ability is Good, the Player can convert only cards with a value of 8 or less.
  • If the Ability is Great, the Player can convert only cards with a value of 10 or less.
  • If the Ability is Exceptional, the Player can convert only cards with a value of 12 or less.
  • If the Ability is Extraordinary, the Player can convert only cards with a value of 14 or less.

For example, famed ghost scholar Professor Doyle has made contact with the mysterious White Lady and is attempting to learn more about her circumstances by questioning her. The Professor has a Charisma of Average and a Specialization in "Speaking to the Dead", which allows him to convert one card in his hand to Hearts, the Suit which governs Charisma. In his hand, the Professor's player holds a Five of Spades, a Six of Diamonds, a Seven of Clubs, and an Ace of Spades. Since Professor Doyle's Charisma is Average in Rank, only cards with a value of six or lower can be converted to Hearts via a Specialization. His player decides to keep the Diamonds for later and converts the Five of Spades into a Five of Hearts and then plays it, hoping a total of 9 (Average Rank (4) + Five of Hearts (5)) is enough to help the White Lady concentrate on the here and now in order to answer a few questions.

We at Fat Goblin Games do hope this optional addition to The Ability Variations tickles your fancy. Please feel free to let us know in the comments!

Your humble servant,

J Gray

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Falkenstein Friday and New Releases!

Falkenstein Friday and New Releases!

Greetings, Friends of Falkenstein!

I am thrilled almost beyond words to announce, on this lovely Friday, the release of not one but two new books for Castle Falkenstein!

Babbage's Engine takes a party of Dramatic Characters and places them on the Duchess Elisabeth, the world's first train controlled by a babbage engine! Of course, such a technological marvel is coveted by those with criminal leanings and it will be up to the party to foil a daring mastermind's fiendish scheme!

This Adventure Entertainment was written by one of the grandmasters of gaming, Steve Kenson. I'm pleased to say I have also contributed to it in some small way.

The Ability Variations is the third in our line of variant rules which allow gaming groups to customize Castle Falkenstein to their needs. Included in this particular supplement are rules for:

  • Specializations for Abilities which allow Dramatic and Host Characters to excel in specific aspects of an Ability when logical.
  • Rules for pairing different Suits to Abilities than the ones they are normally wed to.
  • A simple but robust system for improving Dramatic Characters through the accumulation and expenditure of Improvement Points.

Please consider picking up both these lovely products today. Remember, the revival of Castle Falkenstein depends upon those who love the Great Game supporting it!

Your humble servant.

J Gray

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